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Magic Hour

Swaying grass, rippling water, towering trees, cobblestone streets, and of course magic: from these elements Hayao Miyazaki and his animators crafted the world of Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). They provide such a rich backdrop for the tale of teenage witch Kiki, a girl for whom witchcraft is both vocation and an emblem of outsider status. Just as in other Miyazaki movies like Spirited Away or Ponyo, magic functions here as metaphor, as the storytelling device that sets a young woman’s bildungsroman into motion. These movies may be enchanted fantasies on the surface, but at heart they’re all about a small set of real-world issues: family, responsibility, maturation. They’re driven not by supernatural contrivance, but by the simple fact that life is difficult.

Kiki can fly on a broomstick, an action the film exploits for maximum spectacle. And she can talk with her black cat Jiji, who (in the fine tradition of witches’ familiars) acts as her foil and confidante. But beyond these powers, she’s like any other 13-year-old girl thrust out to live on her own. She’s still a little childish, a little naïve, but also resourceful, hard-working, empathetic. When two old women need help baking a pie for her to deliver, she throws herself into the labor of stoking a fire—not because she has to, mind you, but because she enjoys putting her skills in the service of these newfound friends. She’s still anxious, still self-conscious and vulnerable, but over the course of the film she grows. She overcomes her fears and develops a series of new, supportive relationships.

It all makes for a ideal example of how to write a complex female protagonist. The film explains how to animate her, too: with four quiet colors and a round, expressive face. For a supposed “kids’ movie,” everything about Kiki’s Delivery Service is executed with a startling amount of subtlety and restraint. I especially love the rhythm of the film’s editing. The pace is relaxed, just enough room to breathe, drawing the audience in with its graceful classicism. The same philosophy informs the sound design, which grows simpler as narrative tension mounts, even descending into total silence at the height of the film’s airborne climax. Miyazaki crams power into every detail and every elision.

One detail in particular walloped me with overwhelming emotional force. Late in the film, Kiki experiences some mild depression, losing her self-confidence and her magical abilities with it. She can’t fly and Jiji no longer speaks. It takes some soul-searching and a life-threatening crisis, but pretty soon she’s back on a broom and up in the air. Yet even after every loose end is tied up, Jiji doesn’t say another word. He’s a normal cat now, with a girlfriend and a litter of kittens. I know that this counts as a happy ending, I know that he’s still around and that Kiki has human friends now, but it still engenders a deep sense of loss in me. But then, that’s growing up. That’s magic used as a poignant metaphor. That’s the kind of unremarked-upon detail that makes Kiki’s Delivery Service truly special.

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Link Dump: #53

Hey, it’s Kirara, Sango’s demon-cat companion from InuYasha! Pretty old-school, right? Brings back memories of watching Adult Swim at 2 AM. (For me, anyway.) She’s here, in her cute diminutive form, to welcome us into December. And to entreat you to check out this compendium of fun, fascinating links:

And we’ve got search terms! Like “creepy distorted face music video.” Which, c’mon, doesn’t that refer to like 95% of all pseudo-avant-garde music videos? We had “define:pussy”—FYI, Google says it’s “2. vulgar. A woman’s genitals.” And finally, “satanic whore gets fucked on pentagram.” I’m sure there’s porn out there for that. Or, again, music videos. Lots and lots of awful music videos.

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Gross horror and pleasant anime: two great tastes that taste…odd together.

[This post is written by both of us in support of the Japanese Cinema Blogathon for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief, hosted by Cinema-Fanatic and Japan Cinema. Check them out and please donate if you can.]


Andreas:

This may be a colossal understatement, but here goes: Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a really fucking weird movie. It’s short, cheap, and to the point, communicating through gory, rapid-fire sequences that blaze past in the blink of an eye. This makes the film as a whole pretty difficult to follow, since it often comes across as a particularly hazy, frenetic nightmare. Add in the fact that none of the characters have names, and that the dialogue is minimal, and you can see why I’m not even sure if I saw a film. Maybe I just imagined it. Could a string of images and sounds as intensely, off-puttingly gruesome as Tetsuo really exist?

Well… yes. I guess. The impression I got of the film’s plot was, roughly, this: a panting madman (played by the director) impales his leg with a metal rod. It gets infected. He runs in front of a car and gets run over. Later, the driver of the car notices a gross chunk of metal sticking out of his cheek. He tries to remove it, and (naturally) it sprays pus all over the place. After that, I’m lost. The man tries to go to work, and gets chased by a fellow commuter who’s turning into a cyborg—or maybe not? He goes home, where he has fatal drill-penis sex with his horny, wild-eyed girlfriend after some surreal foreplay—or, again, maybe not?

The rest of the movie involves yet more sped-up chase scenes, violently phallic imagery, and stop-motion transformations. Just imagine the movie Videodrome on amphetamines, with an even more inscrutable storyline. That’s Tetsuo in a nutshell. Overwhelming and gratuitous as the film may be, there’s still a dizzying, demented genius in how earnestly and resourcefully Tsukamoto executes his vision. At heart, it’s a nonstop, nonverbal battle between metal and flesh, with each one ferociously preying on the other; the audience is left to say “Eww!” or “WTF?” Or both.

Ashley:

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: PONYO!

Let’s take the edge off a bit, shall we? I’ve written about Ponyo before; it’s one of my favorite feel-good movies, right up there with Harvey. It is the ultimate example of what a kid’s movie can be: sweet and pleasant without all the pandering, condescending bullshit. You don’t have to have a “kid’s” movie full of double entendres, coded language, hidden imagery, or obscure parallelism (although I ain’t knocking that kind of animated film; I need more of it in my life) for it to be clever, cute, and appealing to a broad audience. Miyazaki’s effortlessly beautiful hand-drawn underwater worlds and his impish little Ponyo are totally irresistible. Sadly, I’m very short on time so I can’t get too in depth about the film but I will leave you with a number of lovely images.

Thanks to Cinema-Fanatic and Japan Cinema for hosting this great blogathon! Please donate if you can!


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Celebrity, Identity, and Perfect Blue

Before we lost Satoshi Kon, and before he had made a dreamscape spy movie, a yuletide comedy/drama about homeless people, a postmodern masterpiece of TV anime, and a meta-cinematic fantasia about Japanese film history… before all that, he made a tight little psychological thriller called Perfect Blue (1997). The film’s style has been compared to those of Hitchcock, Argento, and de Palma, and while it shares their interests in obsession, subjectivity, and nail-biting suspense, deep down it’s pure Kon. His is a world where self-definition is all-important, and where our identities can be shaped by the images that surround us.

This is the crisis that threatens to destroy Mimarin, a Japanese pop star who tries her hand at serious acting with a small role on a TV crime drama. Her fans aren’t happy with this change in career, and they’re encouraged by a website called “Mima’s Room” that purports to record her every thought and move; together, this fan backlash and invasive website shatter Mima’s confidence and rip away any veil of privacy that she may have had. But while her privacy disappears, she’s still secluded, made emotionally and verbally inert by all the traumas she’s undergoing. Then the murders start…

Perfect Blue is one of the tragically few animated horror movies. Thankfully, it’s also an extraordinarily good one. Even though it’s Kon’s first feature film, it shows a director fully in control of his medium and his ideas. Every scene is bursting with subtext, whether it’s about the relationship between fans and celebrities or the media’s impact on female body image. Kon also demonstrates a talent, crucial to later films like Millennium Actress and Paprika, for mixing Mima’s subjective experience and loosening grasp on real life with the film’s literal reality. This nonstop ambiguity comes fully into play during the film’s big final revelation – one which took me by surprise, and upended my assumptions about all the preceding events. (I won’t give it away in writing, but if you’re really curious, an out-of-context visual spoiler is here.)

This is also a very creepy, very violent movie, combining Repulsion-style internal horror with extremely graphic slasher-style killings. But the killings are never gratuitous or contextless, as they feed into or build off of Mima’s own traumas. Her bloodthirsty stalker, like the rest of his obsessive ilk, feels that Mima owes him something for all his loyalty. When she insists on continuing her career the way she wants, he decides she’s a fake and has to die. It’s particularly telling that this decision follows Mima’s participation in a brutal televised rape scene – one that, according to her online doppelgänger, she didn’t want to make in the first place. Due to her association with a sexual act, she has been tainted and now she’s no longer the same Mima. The girlish illusion in a pink dress has been shattered.

This is one of the movie’s most eloquent, well-developed points: the male fans want ownership of their pop star’s sexuality. They have a picture of her in their minds and it must be maintained. (This is relevant across a wide spectrum of celebrities; think about all the singers and actresses whose personal lives have been distorted for publicity’s sake to mesh with their onscreen appearances.) And all the slut-shaming that Mima receives for doing the rape scene worsens her fears. As the movie goes on, the slender and fleet-footed vision of who she used to be, complete with pink ribbon and tutu, comes to dominate her life. In a great scene, the fake (or real?) Mima skips freely down a hallway, unburdened by gravity; meanwhile, the real (or fake?) Mima gasps for breath and struggles to keep up.

This is the issue that Perfect Blue dramatizes so ably in horror form: for her adoring public, the real Mima is a fake. She’s not demure, graceful, or pretty enough; she has her own opinions and desires. She has a weight and realness to her that prevent her from bouncing down a rainy street like her eternally smiling double. But this double, this duplicated image, is the only version of her that can satisfy the fans, and this fact obliterates her self-esteem, as well as her sanity. The process of being a celebrity, of forging the illusions that define music and TV, blur her very notions of who she is. If you’ve seen any of his other movies, you know: Satoshi Kon was the perfect director to take on those problems in Perfect Blue.

I’ll close with a fun illustration of Kon’s debt to American slasher movies. By chance, I happened to recognize a shot that had been quoted from the obscure, gory film The Toolbox Murders (1978). Directed by Dennis Donnelly, it stars Cameron Mitchell as a handyman who perpetrates of the titular murders. It’s a pretty ugly, misogynistic piece of work, with a suitably batshit ending, but at least Kon found it inspiration. Feast your eyes:

Coincidence?

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RIP Satoshi Kon, anime dream master

Last night I learned, tragically, that anime director Satoshi Kon has died of cancer at age 47. Kon was the creative force behind some of my favorite (non-Ghibli) feature-length anime films of recent years, specifically Millennium Actress (2001), Tokyo Godfathers (2003, pictured above), and Paprika, a dream-hopping adventure I saw at MSPIFF when it premiered in 2006. He also directed the thriller Perfect Blue and the complex 13-episode series Paranoia Agent, both of which I have yet to see in their entirety. Suffice it to say that Kon’s life was cut short near the peak of his creative output, and there’s no telling how catastrophic a loss this is to the world of film.

I’ve been meaning to write about Kon for a while; I’m just sad that these have to be the circumstances in which I do it. I wrote a short piece on Millennium Actress a couple years ago; it’s none too insightful or well-written, but it’s a useful jumping-off point, so I’ll reprint it here:

One film whose existence was only made known to me recently is Millennium Actress (2001). From Satoshi Kon, director of great anime like the series Paranoia Agent and the film Paprika, it’s infused with his unique brand of surrealism, but put toward a more coherent purpose: deconstructing the life of a reclusive Japanese actress, as seen through the eyes of an admiring documentary filmmaker. The narrative intermingles her memories of 20th century Japan with images of her film career (including pastiches of Throne of Blood and Godzilla), and concerns her relationship with a political prisoner, who gives her the key “to the most important thing.” As it traces the actress’s struggle to find her lost love, it also examines the connection between real life and the dream lives portrayed in film, leading to a bittersweet finale. Between its multifarious animation styles and compelling subject matter, I find Millennium Actress just as beautiful as the much-praised works of Miyazaki.

This snippet hints at some of Kon’s inimitable strengths: he could blend an acute cultural awareness and a slightly wacky sense of humor with faith in the infinite (and phantasmagoric) capacities of animation. I’ve only seen Paranoia Agent‘s first episode, but even that lone half-hour displays Kon’s extensive talent for unpacking dense narratives with both impressive (sometimes disturbing) visuals and extreme, sometimes painful psychological detail. Although renowned for his forays into dream imagery (most explicitly Paprika), Kon always maintained an intense focus on those dreams’ emotional underpinnings and his characters’ rich internal lives. At the end of a summer so dominated by Inception, it’s refreshing to look at a dream-weaving director whose characters had personalities and a pulse.

Tokyo Godfathers, which I watched a few weeks ago, was a delightful surprise and demonstrated Kon’s sheer versatility. Although much of his work consists of probing, stylized peeks into the psyches of fragile individuals, Godfathers proved that he was equally adept at marrying urban drama with broad comedy. In American films, homelessness is too often the substance of saccharine, Oscar-baity melodramas; Kon, however, sympathetically observes his poverty-ridden (but still dignified) characters – a grizzled, middle-aged man, a flamboyant trans woman, and a teenage runaway – as they form a strange but functional family unit, interacting naturalistically and coping with hardships that range from hunger to tuberculosis to their dirty, hidden pasts.

Kon deftly balances the gravity of their collective situation with the lightness of their madcap chases and slapstick collisions (as when an assassin accidentally prevents one of them from making a potentially fatal mistake). And although the film indulges in a number of anime clichés, they never threaten to constrain it, since it’s always buoyed by its fundamental soulfulness and self-awareness. Tokyo Godfathers is volatile in mood and style, but Kon handles these rapid transitions masterfully. It’s a film that’s integrates cartoonish extravagances with Tokyo’s physical realities, and a must-see for any fan of Kon’s other films.

However, I think Millennium Actress is Kon’s best work, and possibly one of the best animated films from any nation. It’s so alive with the power and history of cinema; how could I not love it? (For Ozu lovers, its title character is also loosely based on the enigmatic Setsuko Hara.) I’m sure Kon’s critical legacy will be hotly debated over the coming years – and as we debate it, we’ll be mourning the future films he could have made. He did leave an unfinished film, The Dream Machines, at his death; perhaps it’ll be visible someday. In the meantime, here are a couple of helpful Kon-centric links: 1) an extensive interview with Kon from around the time Paprika was released and 2) Film Studies For Free‘s round-up of resources and academic papers on Kon. Or else you can hit YouTube and start watching Paranoia Agent.

Addendum: While glancing through this retrospective on Kon’s career, I saw a description of Tokyo Godfathers as “saccharine melodrama.” Clearly I disagree (I think Godfathers is pretty underrated); still, the piece by Grady Hendrix of the New York Sun has a lot of great insights and is very worth reading.

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Saturday Theme Songs: Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon, as I’ve written in the past, was one of the most important cartoons of my, and many others’, childhood. Most people in my age bracket that I talk to who are or were into anime at some point typically claim that one of three animes were the gateway: Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon. All three aired in the US at around the same time (Sailor Moon in 1995; DBZ and Pokemon in 1996) and immediately preceded, ushered in and fueled the great anime boom of the mid-nineties.

Although the opening theme changed each season (and of course, had its Japanese counterparts) it’s this opening from the English dub of the first season of Sailor Moon that most American fans remember with fond nostalgia. The opening is a hodgepodge of some of the season’s best animated moments merged with a lyrically dubious song; they try to find the right moments to match up with the words of the song but some of it is just a little off in regards to the actual character of Sailor Moon. For example:

Fighting evil by moonlight/winning love by daylight/never running from a real fight/she is the one named Sailor Moon.

Now if I wanted to get really technical, the only true statements in regards to the first season there are the first and last one. Yes, she fights evil (but not always by moonlight) and yes, her name is Sailor Moon. The whole, winning love thing though…Serena and Darien didn’t begin to have a relationship until the second season. They didn’t even know they loved each other until the very end of the first season. And Serena, the girl and the hero, is a huge wuss in the beginning of the show; on more than one occasion she expresses her desire to not fight. The song skips over the details about Serena being a flaky, unreliable, obnoxious teenager and about the in-fighting between the Scouts (read: between Raye and Serena).

And for some unfathomable reason, the song shows (and has a roll call!) for all five of the Inner Scouts! The Japanese opening goes the smart route and only lets on that there’s going to be three scouts initially; after Sailor Mars comes along we don’t get another scout until Jupiter-14 episodes later. But American kids already knew who Jupiter and Venus were and that eventually they were coming, thanks to the opening.

But despite all of that, the opening and the song does reflect the strongest themes of the show: the importance of friendship; finding love in the unlikeliest of places; and most importantly, for our hero Serena, growing up. Serena’s character arc is the most important and developed of the series; it happens not just over the course of the first season but the entire show. She grows into herself and her responsibilities as a friend and a super hero and the opening song details those more stellar qualities, even if they are something that she develops later on.

And it’s got that kick-ass guitar solo, amirite?

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More pretty soldiers than you can shake a wand at!

Are you ready for some straight up nostalgic awesomeness?

If watching that Toonami promo took you back and made you long for your youth, we’re in the same boat. I really shouldn’t be distracting myself from the AFP tarot design but well, I just watched all of Sailor Moon R (the second season) and it’s definitely on the brain. And seeing as I have a kind of recurring theme of exploring things from my childhood, it’s kind of fucked up that I haven’t even mentioned Sailor Moon yet. Because if there is one thing that affected my life more than any other book, show, or movie it is Sailor fucking Moon.

She will fuck your shit right up.

Now for all you folks who don’t really know much about Sailor Moon I’ll do a brief summary of the show and characters. Sailor Moon is a massive cash cow anime that, while definitely not the first of it’s kind, definitely popularized the Magical Girl type series. Like lots of animes it started out as a manga by Naoko Takeuchi in 1992. It was very quickly adapted into an anime, so quickly that the show and the manga ran concurrently (indeed, the entire Doom Tree  arc in the beginning of the second season is literally filler; Takeuchi had never planned to do more with Sailor Moon after the first season and the Ann and Alan [or An and Eiru] storyline was created so she would have time to catch up).   According to Wikipedia it made it’s debut here in the states on September 11th, 1995; fourteen years ago yesterday. Serena/Usagi Tsukino is a very annoying, whiny, irresponsible flake of a fourteen-year-old girl so of course she’s our main character. She and the other senshi (at first there’s just five, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus, later on there’s…many, many more) and two space cats and one rose-throwing pretty boy in a cape must fight evil forces (always in Japan of course) to save the world from being destroyed. It’s your very basic Magical Girl premise.

Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus, goddamn fucking Sailor Mini Moon, Sailor Pluto, Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, that angsty bitch Saturn and Artemis. I don't know why Luna isn't there, but whatever.

However. When I was a kid, this shit was hardcore and I felt deeply connected to these characters. That’s how it always is with the things we watched as children; we can watch it now as adults and see the shaky premise, not-so-great-messages, stupid characters, ridiculously convoluted plots, badly written dialogue, we see it all and laugh at it but when we were kids this was the shit. And to Sailor Moon’s credit much of it’s fucked upness was due to fucking DIC(k) butchering the shit out of it. I mean, I’ve watched the Japanese episodes and English episodes side by side and yeah, it still has a lot of problems but at least it made a little more sense. And at least the characters didn’t use trendy lingo like ‘da bomb’. Christ, that makes me cringe. But despite all of that I loved this show; every day at 4:00 pm I would watch it and to be honest even now as an adult while I’m laughing at how ridiculous most of it is there are still moments that I find very stirring or beautiful and they take me back to a very different place and time in my life.

But so that’s the show, I’ll probably get more into other characters and situations as I go on but that’s the gist of it. One of the first things I want to discuss is something that I thought about a great deal yesterday and that was the very disturbing parallel I saw between a major plot in the Black Moon arc and another, more current phenomena, Twilight.

Now I’ve never written about Twilight before even though I have some very strong feelings about it: I hate, it sucks, it sends fucked up messages to young girls, Edward is an abusive prick, Bella is a vapid, empty, dependent little crybaby and it upsets me greatly that someone’s poorly written sex fantasy  is a best-seller and that people think that just because it is a best-seller that that means it’s a good book. But I don’t want to get too deep into that right now. Now, during the Black Moon arc there is a very memorable storyline wherein Darien/Mamoru (the rose-throwing pretty boy, Tuxedo Mask and Serena’s college-aged boyfriend/future husband/past lover from when they were living on the moon. Yeah, it makes sense in context, sort of) has a recurring nightmare and in it a foreboding voice tells him that if he continues to see Serena she’ll die and it will jeopardize the future of their entire world. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And so…rather than, you know, talking to her about it he tells her that he doesn’t love her anymore and that he wants nothing to do with her. Man, he sure knows how to look out for a girl. And throughout like 10 fucking episodes we have to watch her be upset over all of it and him treat her like garbage in an attempt to make her stopping loving him. Trust me, it’s frustrating. I get really tired of the ‘guy must protect girl by creating distance so he just treats her like shit and/or leaves her without explanation’ story; it’s really old and stale and honestly, what person would actually act like this? It’s always seemed completely unrealistic and frustrating to me. And so, I was reading some of the comments on on of the episodes (that were just rife with misspellings and random capitalization; this is youtube we’re talking about) and I was surprised at the people who were defending Darien’s actions. And then I saw that one of these users was named TwilightGirl something or another and, okay, far be it from me to make assumptions about another person that I don’t know but come on.

True love...I guess...so says the plot.

And so I spent a little while thinking about it and, yeah. Yeah, there are a lot of similarities between Serena and Darien’s relationship and those two fuckers in that series. There’s very little build-up that gives credence to their supposed very deep and eternal love (I mean, Serena and Darien have a past life on their side but still: we only see them dance a few times and kiss while in the present the only relationship they had before discovering their past was an antagonistic one at best); they’re all pretty annoying characters; both females have a horrible, stereotypical tendency to fall apart when their boyfriends dump them; and both males think that it’s okay to treat your partner badly or do fucked up shit to them ‘because they love them’ and ‘they’re doing what’s best for them’.

Needless to say I was more than a little upset by these parallels. So I thought about it for a little as I continued watching more episodes and came to some conclusions. The first was that, hey, maybe there’s some hope for these Twilight lovers! I mean, Sailor Moon would sometimes send out some very weird, not-so-great messages and this entire storyline was one of them (and what bothers me is that seeing as it was the 90s they thought, HEY, gotta have an aesop and so every episode ended with a Sailor Says. And they would always pull like, the weirdest fucking one they could; it was always something that had very little to do with the plot itself or something that was trivial next to the issue they should have talked about. And it bothers me that in not one of these episodes did we have a Sailor Says about how it’s not okay for people to treat you this way) but I didn’t take away any harmful ideas or values from it. But then again, back then when we watched the show I don’t remember any of my friends swooning over Darien. We couldn’t believe what a jerk he was and didn’t understand why he didn’t just tell Serena about the dream. But these Twilighters act like Edward is the be all end all of maleness and it’s disturbing. At least Sailor Moon acknowledges in it’s own way that what Darien is doing is fucked up.

And also, I started growing out of Sailor Moon when I was like 13; there’s a website called twilightmoms.com. I shit you not. And another thing is that, this is an isolated incident as far as I know for Sailor Moon. Because despite being a kid’s show and having some pretty vapid characters most of them did show some kind of development and Serena was a prime example of this (in the manga more than the anime and in the Japanese version WAY more than the dub but still, it’s there); over time she grew into herself and her own responsibilities. Whereas Bella is…well….we’ll just call her Mary Sue. And then of course I thought about the sheer context in which these characters exist; despite being a whiny little brat Serena is still an ass-kicking heroine who takes down monsters in a weekly formula and has saved the fucking planet like 12 times. What have you done lately, Bella?  Her whole life is Edward and nothing else matters to her and uh, sorry but that’s fucking boring. Like seriously, think about your real life. Think about your female friends who the only subject they ever talk about is their boyfriend/husband/children and nothing else because they have no life outside of that. Now think about how much you can’t stand to spend time with that person. And if you are that person think about how none of your friends like to be at your house for very long. You know who you are. So seriously. Sailor Moon>Twilight.

And so beyond all that I want to talk more about how important this show was in shaping me into the person I now am. Because seriously, this was the gateway. Sailor Moon lead me in one way or another to almost all the things that were really important to me. First of all, anyone who knows this show knows how much it would appeal to a budding queer woman. Some of my first fantasies involved the characters from Sailor Moon. And it definitely helped that the show had it’s fair share of lesbian and gay characters (that they awkwardly tried to edit out by switching genders).

Or by making them "cousins". Yeah, okay, SURE, Dic, whatever.

All these strong, ass-kicking females, all those transformation scenes (which seriously, oh my God, one of Sailor Moon’s greatest failings is that it reuses the same chunks of animation over and over and over and the transformations were like this. When I was younger I loved all of them, every thing swirling around them and turning them into their alter egos; now as an adult I usually skip right through that shit. Seriously, it takes forever) it all invariably impacted my sexuality. My earliest experiences with the internet were on Sailor Moon websites and then ultimately reading Sailor Moon fan fiction. Yes, Sailor Moon lead me to fan fiction. And then to my first hentai fiction. I remember it so well even though I was like 11 at the time (why my parents let me on the internet unsupervised is beyond me):I was on some random Sailor Moon fan fiction site and I went to click on a story. In parenthesis next to the title it said ‘lemon’. Being at the time unfamiliar with fanfic lingo I had no idea what that meant and just read on. And was met with the delights of the first sex story I ever read. Clearly, thought 11 year old me, I must find more of these stories! And I did.

Now, while these kinds of stories eventually became my first masturbation material outside of my own thoughts (which is pretty fucking important in and of itself) for a long time I would just read these stories and get really turned on by them but I wouldn’t actually get off to them. But then that changed. And I had a revelation: why, I could write my own smutty Sailor Moon stories! And my God, were they fucking dirty. Part of me wishes I could find and read some of those stories; that was before I gave a shit about plot or character or any of that. Straight up Porn Without Plot. So Sailor Moon lead me to writing my first fanfic. Which anyone who knows me will tell you that writing fanfiction (first Sailor Moon, then DragonBall Z, then and perhaps most importantly Harry Potter: I am a geek of epic proportions and you should be jealous) was a humongous part of my life. And honestly my love for writing fanfic only died out a few years ago when I finally got tired of leeching off other people’s characters and settings (and then went into a year and a half long slump). But still; I did develop a lot as a writer during my fanfic years and it’s all very important to me. And Sailor Moon started it all.

It would take a very, very long time for me to go into the intricacies of how Sailor Moon has affected my life; this is just a small taste of it. Despite it’s many downfalls, I love this show, I always will and when I make fun of it I do it with a very strong sense of affection. And if you feel the same way about Sailor Moon you should watch the Sailor Moon Abridged series.

It parodies the series and all of it’s hilarious fucked upness with great fun and affection and I’m sure most fans will appreciate it. They just recently finished up the first series (that’s 40 episodes!) and you can find them all here. So, I’m probably going to watch the next season of Sailor Moon and who knows; I barely remember the SuperS season (for good reason some would say) and never actually watched Stars (since it never aired in this country) so I might just do that.

Because the manga is prettier than the anime.

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